What I Did at BookExpo

I spent most of last week at BookExpo America, the annual trade show where publishers large and small try to generate excitement among booksellers for what’s coming out over the next few months. I was filing dispatches from the convention floor for Shelf Awareness, but I also participated in two author showcases where my background as the science fiction and fantasy reviewer for Shelf came in handy.

On Wednesday afternoon, I moderated a discussion with three authors from Tor’s summer lineup. Carrie Vaughn told us about the stories in Kitty’s Greatest Hits, a short story collection which explores some of the side paths she doesn’t normally have a chance to pursue in her popular urban fantasy series about Kitty Norville, a werewolf with a call-in radio talk show. My pal John Scalzi was promoting his just-released Fuzzy Nation, which has just debuted on the extended New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller lists. And Vernor Vinge shared some insights into The Children of the Sky, a sequel to his award-winning classic A Fire Upon the Deep which fans have been awaiting for nearly two decades.

Tor.com has an excellent write-up of this panel; there was a lot for us to talk about and not a lot of time to do it, but we still managed to have a very freewheeling discussion. Each of the three books is fantastic in its own particular way; I wasn’t even familiar with Vaughn’s urban fantasy series—although I’m very much looking forward to reading another recently published book of hers, After the Golden Age—but you can walk right into the stories with no confusion whatsoever. And I don’t want to spoil the fun of the Vinge too much for you, because that’s not out until October, but since Scalzi’s book is out now, I can tell you that he does his usual bang-up job of using a riveting story to slip a philosophical time bomb under your brain’s radar. Like much of his fiction, Fuzzy Nation is easy to read, but it stays with you.

The next day, I was on a similar panel with authors of middle-grade fantasy, including Matthew J. Kirby (Icefall), Lisa McCann (The Unwanteds), and N.D. Wilson (The Dragon’s Tooth). Younger fantasy fans will find a lot to enjoy in each of these novels; heck, I think older fans of, say, Neil Gaiman might also get sucked into Wilson’s story about two orphans forcibly recruited into a magical secret society. I really enjoyed this conversation, too—there’s some highlights in a Shelf Awareness BookExpo wrap-up. And with everything I learned about upcoming releases wandering around the display booths when I wasn’t up on stage, I’ve got plenty of reading to keep me busy until I find out who I’ll be interviewing at next year’s show…

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31 May 2011 | events |